Tag Archives: exhaustion

Not a Real Doctor (#21)

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I often say “I should have gone to med school instead”, but last weekend for the first time in my life I meant it. I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was 9 years old, and I gave up everything to chase that dream. It was the only thing I have ever wanted to do, despite the low wage, lack of recognition and high suicide rates. But final year has broken me.

I am absolutely drained, not simply of energy but also of passion and conviction. Hard as I try I cannot will myself to pick up my books and study for yet another exam. I’ve recently been contemplating the idea that it simply isn’t worth it. All that effort put in and abuse taken, and almost half a million dollars in university fees, for a lifetime of shitty pay and a lack of recognition. To get told you aren’t a real doctor; that you don’t save real lives. No one becomes a vet for the money. But given the work and effort we put into it all, the massive discrepancies with regards to income and social recongition for the human and veterinary medical profession does get to me.

I’ve calculated that I have been made to work 130 hours over the past 2 weeks on my equine rotation.  I know that to register as a vet you need to know about all the different species, regardless of whether you intend to ever work with them in the future. But it is an unrealistic expectation for students to remember every bit of information they had learnt over the past 6 years – especially when they are worked to the bone during the day and have little time outside of work to revise the material. I struggle with equine medicine, having never grown up around horses and having little interest in the subject area, and I got put down everyday for it: told I wasn’t good enough; and that I would make a shitty doctor. On a rainy saturday night I was involved in a minor car accident. I was ok, but my tyre had blown out. I hadn’t a tyre iron with me, and after getting some help from a friend, realised that my spare wheel was flat too. I emailed my supervisors saying that I wasn’t able to make it in time for morning treatments on sunday due to my circumstances, and was met with the cold reply that I should have ubered into work regardless. I think that was the breaking point for me. I called my mom sobbing and spent the next week endlessly worrying that I would be failed because of circumstances that were beyond my control.

I promised myself that regardless of my position in the future – if I ever make it as a specialist surgeon – that I would remember what is was like to be me right at this moment, that I would always treat my peers with respect and compassion. That I wouldn’t allow the stress and pressure get to me in such a way that I became destructive to the dreams of others.

When people meet me they say “Wow you must really love animals to choose veterinary medicine”. But in truth it is because I don’t like people. A dog bites because it is fearful and a lion kills because it is hungry. But we have an ability to be unkind despite intelligent reasoning. It is unkindness without a cause.

Come to think of it, the things that have been getting to me lately have been due to the words and actions of people, rather than my work with the animals. My faith in people (and myself) is broken, but my yearning to help animals remains unchanged. So maybe I don’t actually mean it when I say I should have gone to med school instead. And maybe this isn’t a dream I should give up on just yet.

Jol

Sad Lines (#19)

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I have been working 11 hours a day – and 3 weekends in a row. Next week I go on to emergency/ after-hours whereby I am expected to be on the floor from 10pm – 8am within the small animal hospital, or 4pm – 8am if I am on an equine shift. To say I am exhausted is an understatement. I have been fore-going sleep in order to maintain my social life as much as I am able. Last friday night some friends from church and I handed out dinner to the homeless on the streets then caught up over ice cream. And despite having to work in the morning over the weekend, I spent my afternoons reading at the beach and having wine and cheese and learning about sailing from some new friends. I am absolutely exhausted, and I probably look just as terrible. But things will be ok – I will take them as they come.

I haven’t really had time to read for leisure very much, or to write. So here are some sad lines from literature that touched my heart – even though I am not particularly sad at the moment. I think that whilst sadness shouldn’t be romanticised and placed on a pedestal, it is something that must be acknowledged and embraced. There are few emotions that we will feel as often, as deeply or as tangibly in this life, so surely learning to embrace it like an old friend would make our journey on this little blue dot just that much more meaningful.

“Tonight I can write the saddest lines. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.”
– Pablo Neruda
“She vanished without a trace, swept away by the flow of time and it’s flood of people”
– Haruki Murakami
“It’s strange. I felt less lonely when I didn’t know you.”
– Jean Paul Sartre
“Time was passing like a hand waving from a train I wanted to be on. I hope you never have to think about anything as much as I think about you.”
– Jonathan Safran Foer
“We’re each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark?”
– Ursula K. Le Guin
“Your only problem, perhaps, is that you scream without letting yourself cry.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
“I didn’t leave because I stopped loving you, I left because the longer I stayed the less I loved myself.” – Rupi Kaur
“I hid my deepest feelings so well I forgot where I placed them.” – Amy Tan

People often say that the saddest word is “almost”: the notion of things that might have been; of opportunities missed and words unsaid: of regret. But there are so many ways in which “almost” is happy: “He almost did not survive the night”, “I almost decided not to go to the party where I met you”, “I almost lost the courage to call.”

I therefore think the saddest phrase is “It should have been you”. It is heartbreaking no matter which context I put it in. Whether walking down the aisle with the wrong man, or a mother grieving the loss of the son she cared more for.

Jolyn

Rotation Rookie (#5)

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I am officially in the midst of my final year at vet school. We have done away with the daily monotony of hours upon hours of lectures and labs that made up the past 5 years and have graduated into the hospital as veterinarians in training (we even have badges that say so).

My rotations are on 2 week blocks that may be split up into individual specialities within it. For instance, my first rotation of the year is surgery, which is split up into a week of orthopaedics and a week of soft tissue. After this rotation I will have 2 weeks of anaesthesia followed by 2 weeks of emergency medicine etc.

I am so far greatly enjoying myself. There is always something new to learn everyday and we are starting to actually get a sense of what it means to be a vet. The learning curve is pretty steep and I am still trying to find my bearings around balancing full time work in the hospital and having to study for exams, write papers and prepare for presentations at night. Needless to say it is extremely exhausting. In my surgery rotation we are expected to independently perform consults before reporting our findings to the surgeons whereby we will perform a physical exam before returning to the owner to discuss the plan. We get to scrub into surgeries, but don’t get to do much whilst in surgery. Lastly we have to write up surgical reports, discharge instructions, drug order forms and clinical records. Thus I sometimes find myself working from 7.30am through to 7pm with scarcely a lunch break on busy days. When I get home I am expected to read papers and study for the rotation exams that we have on the friday at the end of every week or two. I am therefore struggling to find time to simply rest, given that we also get rostered on every other weekend and are on call throughout some nights.

On top of this I had signed up for an external dental course that runs for 10 weeks or, so I spend my remaining free time during the weekend studying for that.

It’s only been a week and already I am tired beyond measure.
I met up with a couple of classmates last friday after not seeing them for months; we all went over to a friend’s home and ate KFC and ice cream and talked about how sad and tired we all were. And thus is a summary of my first week back in vet school – so much has changed, but so little, too.

Jol

Aspirations

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I feel like I’ve disappeared off the face of the Earth for a week. I’ve just finished my four mid-semester papers and an online quiz and a presentation- all of which were squeezed into the span of a mere 4 days. Tonight I rest, and then it’s back to work because I’ve a paper and a lab report due next week- as well as 5 or 6 breed identification tests to complete and much lecture material to catch up on. I am so exhausted. I’ve basically been getting 4 hours of sleep a day- it has literally been half hour breaks for meals before studying till 2am, and then waking up at 6am to continue studying before the next paper- And it’s more a matter of time constrains. I’ve been pulling such long hours but I have only been able to read through every page only once- there is just too much material to cover. And the worst thing about this is that I feel like I have given my all but it may not be good enough- I’m not worried about not getting HDs, I’m worried about failing. If we fail a single unit, we are out of the course- replaced by a student more compatible.

I know fully well that I may not be the most socialble person. I have not attended a single party or gathering this year. I wish I were confident, and I wish I were more normal. But I don’t think going to a place full of people I don’t know, drinking substances that I dislike, and standing around awkwardly sounds like any fun at all. I have never been to a club. I have never felt comfortable at a socially rowdy event, here, on foreign land. I would rather read a book than go to a party, and it isn’t cool. It isn’t society’s idea of fun or cool or sociable- and I accept that. I’m different in Australia, I’m basically anti-social. I left everyoe I feel comfortable around at home. And it is a choice I made, but to have come from a land where you have many friends, and have had a wonderfully busy life, to somewhere where you have few friends and probably won’t be able to make more because of your interests and cultural difference, isn’t fun. And it gets very lonely.

But it doesn’t mean I don’t dream, it doesn’t mean I am not enjoying my youth, or making fun choices because afterall, “YOLO” right? Yes, we only live once. Someone’s definition of making the most of their youth may involve partying, or being reckless. And that is totally fine. But why is it that if I’d rather have fun in a different way, I have to be the non-norm. Sometimes I feel that the ‘cooler’ kids from highschool see me scurrying around uni, and with cigarettes hanging off their lips, regard me with pity or contempt.

Look at her, all work and no play. Always under-dressed- hoodie, shorts and flipflops. Constantly studying, few friends, never seen at parties. YOLO! You only live once man, she’s wasting her youth. Never aspires or dreams, never does fun things. Never take chances.

But I have dreams. I aspire to be a bloody great surgeon (pun intended). And I have given all to get here (and what bigger chance is there to take than migrating), and I will continue to give my comfort, time and leisure to get there. My dreams are big- they aren’t only for the moment- and I do have difficulties with living in the moment. I have carried my aspirations since I was in 9. And I’ve never wanted anything else so badly. Just because I dream for the future doesn’t mean I don’t dream. I walk around exhausted but I’m burning inside. My definition of “You Only Live Once” isn’t to take uncanny risks in the name of fun, or to get wasted. It is to work hard, to make the most of what I want my life to be. Neither definition is more right than the other, but neither is more worthless either.

jol

Space

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I’m in a bad place. I have no drive in school, no desire to go out with friends and ultimately, just feel sad and alone. Very sad, so sad I feel like crying all the time. And I don’t know why.

It kills me when you drink. Even when you don’t, it stings. Try as I might to distract myself, I can do nothing else but think about which girl you’re currently making out with and hope that if you do bang some slut, I wont have to again witness it. Every time you go for a ‘gathering’, my next 2 weeks are fearfully spent scouring Facebook pages and blogs, heart in my mouth, that I may find something bad out. No. I don’t trust you, I don’t trust your friends and I don’t trust you when you’re with them. That you were drunk when you did it doesn’t comfort me. No. I want to believe love extends even to the subconscious, even if you won’t make the conscious decision to choose me over drinking, period. It slays me that I have to be the bad guy all the time, to feel like I’m depriving you of your social life. And I feel like I’m being unfair, childish and possessive. But it’s not fair that I can’t trust you, it’s not fair that I have to be, all the time, insecure. And it’s not fair that I still love you. I wish I were in a different sort of relationship; while things aren’t bad and we (want to) see each other everyday, we are impatient and snappy. We cease to view time spent together as special or interesting. I’ve begun to forget how to live without you, and you I fear, have began to fear less about losing me. I feel powerless over my happiness and it brings me down, you will always choose them over me. Unless I directly tell you not to, you will never make that decision based on my happiness. And I want to take it back, because you’re not going to sacrifice the bigger things for it. You need your space, from the tyrant that I can be, to drink, swear and party; to spend with people I can neither trust nor like- and I’ve tried, I have. And I want to distance myself before I’m hurt, again. Not again. And it will be years till I learn to trust again. But I don’t think you’re up for it, anymore.

I want you to be happy. But I want to be happy, too. I’m in a dark place, and I really need you right now. But you can’t be here until you choose to be.

Jol